Stinky landfill should be stripped of licence, council leader says

Date published: 25 March 2024

The operators of a landfill with a ‘stunning stench’ should be stripped of their licence, according to the leader of Rochdale Council.

Councillor Neil Emmott said Valencia Waste should have its licence to run the Pilsworth South Landfill ‘removed’. His comments were echoed by neighbouring Bury council leader Eamonn O’Brien at a meeting of Greater Manchester's top politicians.

In recent weeks, the smell – which Councillor O’Brien said was ‘like being hit in the face’ – has become a major issue.

Last month, residents around the site, next to the M66 between Bury and Heywood, said the stench emanating is ‘awful’ and like ‘sticking your head in a bag of rotten meat’. That prompted a visit from the Mayor of Greater Manchester, who added it was ‘nothing like I had experienced before’.

Speaking at a meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority on Friday (22 March), Andy Burnham said the situation was ‘not acceptable in the slightest’. He added he has met with officials from the Environment Agency and UK Health Security Agency to resolve the problem site, and claimed that ‘there have been breaches at the site by the operator’.

Mr Burnham said: “We have escalated this issue to the top of both organisations. I hope that action is now being carried out at the right pace to remove this appalling nuisance for residents.”

“I went past it yesterday and it smelled as bad as it has been,” added Councillor Emmott in the discussion. “I think Valencia’s licence should be removed. There has been too many breaches so far and they are not a good operator.”

He believed ‘some of the smell is going towards Fairfield Hospital’, and Councillor O’Brien also feared for residents in the summer as ‘it will be impossible to open their windows’ because they will face ‘a choice between either cooling down or being hit in the face with this smell’.

After residents first complained about the stink, the Environment Agency said its officers were visiting the dump weekly. A spokesperson added: “We would like to thank members of the community who have reported odour issues to us at a site in the Pilsworth area.

“Our officers continue to attend the site on a regular basis and our regulatory investigations are currently ongoing. We are using the regulatory powers available to us while working with multi-agency partners to resolve this issue. Members of the public can continue to report odour to our 24/7 incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.”

Ethan Davies, Local Democracy Reporter

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